THE JOY OF TRAVEL

(Originally Published in Biscayne Boulevard Times. January 2005.)

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I am passionate traveler who will find any excuse to visit new places and have new adventures. Whether it is hiking in the red rock dessert of Arizona, camping in the bush of South Africa, or snorkeling in the Red Sea, I find inspiration and excitement wherever I go. Like many Americans, I am planning a winter vacation to get away from the work and stress of ordinary life. Health and wellness are an important part of what I am looking for in my travel experience. Just like you, I want to come back from my trip feeling better than when I left.

There are many ways to find wellness on your winter vacation. The following is a list of travel ideas that come from my own experience as a person seeking personal growth and piece of mind.

1. Go on a retreat. 
Nothing soothes the body, mind and spirit like a retreat in a beautiful setting. On a retreat, you get back to basics and enjoy the simple abundance of life. You can choose to participate in yoga classes, learn the art of meditation, or connect with your personal spiritual community. Kashi Center, a lovely interfaith retreat center located in South Florida, offers retreats all-year round.

2. Visit sacred sites. 
Some of the most inspiring moments in life happen at sacred sites. Places like Machu Picchu in Peru and the pyramids in Egypt have attracted pilgrims for thousands of years. You will be forever changed by stepping back in time when the world was filled with magic and mystery. Body Mind Spirit Journeys offers affordable and exciting packages to sacred sites all over the world.

3. Attend a workshop, conference or seminar. 
Several excellent institutes like Omega in New York and Esalen in California offer personal growth vacations that will help you improve your life. With a range of topics from personal relationships to spiritual development, you can choose to spend your winter holiday focusing on the things that matter most to you.

4. Indulge in Nature. 
Biking, hiking, skiing, rafting and swimming are just some of the endless opportunities that nature has to offer. Whether you enjoy quiet walks in the forest or climbing up mountains, indulging in nature helps you appreciate this amazing planet on which we all live. For an awesome outdoor adventure that is not too far from home, try a visit to the beautiful North Carolina Mountains.

5. Treat yourself to a Spa. 
Try massage, aromatherapy, reflexology or any of the terrific treatments designed to help you unwind and let go of your stress. Whether you just want to pamper yourself or you want to release all of the tension and toxins from your body, a spa is a great place to find wellness. For an inexpensive and local favorite, try the Russian and Turkish Baths. If you want something more exclusive, Canyon Ranch has spas in Florida, Utah and Vegas.

It’s not only where you go on your winter vacation but also how you go that will determine how much you enjoy your trip. There are several things I recommend that you try on your vacation. Try traveling alone instead of with someone else. This will give you the essential time and space needed to nurture the relationship you have with yourself. Keep a journal of your experiences. Writing is a great way to learn about ourselves and share our stories with others. Get out of your comfort zone and do something that frightens you. Challenges help you grow as a person. This could be anything from talking to a stranger to jumping out of a plane. Set a positive intention everyday so that you can manifest all the things you want on your trip. If you haven’t heard already, intention is the most powerful tool we have to create the life we want.

I also suggest that you don’t do the following things. Don’t bring cell phones, pagers, laptops, or other things that will distract you from being in the present moment. Once you get over the initial withdrawal of all your electronics, you will find so much freedom and happiness in their absence. Don’t be a tourist – be a pilgrim. You can visit all the sites and take all the tours without being a tourist. Pilgrims visit places with respect and reverence and look for the deeper meaning in the history, energy and significance of the place. Don’t be logical and structured for your entire vacation. If you are very organized person, try a little chaos and spontaneity. We have the best adventures when we get lost and need to follow our intuition to find our way. Finally, don’t limit yourself. Follow your passion and bliss wherever they lead. Wellness always resides in the place where we have the most joy and fun in our life.

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